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tv   Politics Public Policy Today  CSPAN  April 1, 2013 8:00pm-9:00pm EDT

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crash into the house. they stand on the tables. they drink all the wind. there was a 1600 pound cheese that had been sent as a gift to the new president that was completely devoured during this time so the white house was really, really beaten up pretty bad. even jackson had to be escorted out because they feared for his safety. >> he left the party early and went back to his hotel to go to bed. >> over our past several programs, we have been talking about the burgeoning and strong washington society developing in the town. how did it react to this opening of the white house to the masses? >> with horror, you know, margaret smith, who was quite a socialite and kept diaries and letters said, oh, the pity, the pity, it's not the way it was with every other party after an inauguration, it was part of the select few who came, not the public. >> once the party, the inauguration party was over, this is a man you described as being in intense mourning.
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was the white house social for a few years after that? >> it wasn't social very much at all for the first year. they had to refinish it and replace all the drapes and chair seats where muddy boots had been trampling and put things together and even after that, to the disappointment of washington society, they said, we're in deep mourning, we will not be giving parties. >> let's take a quick glimpse at america in that timed about census bureau statistics. this is america in 1830, population at this point, 12.9 million in 24 states and once again more than 30% growth since the 10 years earlier census. slaves,re two million about 15% of the population. and the largest cities continued to be east coast -- new york, philadelphia and baltimore. what else should people know about the period in this country? >> it's a period of incredible change. much like the period that we've gone through in the last, with the information revolution.
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this was a huge period of change. we had gone from an agrarian society that thomas jefferson was talking to being of multiple ethnicities, multiple religions, waves of immigration, the railroads, the telegraph, all kinds of things were changing the way life was lived. >> what was happening to the north-south unity at this point? were we seeing the seeds of the civil war? >> north-south unity was a difficult one. the founding fathers had never settled that question because it wasn't easy to settle. by the time you get to 1820, we have an economic crisis in 1819 and then we have the admission of missouri and the missouri crisis which precipitates a free fix, we'll put in one free state and one slave state and won't talk about slavery anymore. by the time we're in the late '20's and early '30's, the spector of slavery is casting a shadow over america.
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>> next question. caller: i was calling, chatham is the county seat of pennsylvania county, virginia, and we have in our courthouse a portrait of rachel because she was born here supposedly in 1767 which was the year we broke off and organized our county and her father was a surveyor and she supposedly left her when she was 12 and the gossip was that he had to leave town because they were kind of interested in some of his surveys but anyway, we do have the site marked and we have rocks left from the frame house. did virginia play any part -- you know. >> thanks, mary.
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we'll pick it up from her. do you know this part of her biography? >> it was where she was born and lived until she was 12 when they decided to go over the mountains to the new territory but basically we know nothing about her girlhood. we extrapolate it was like the girlhood of other children on the western edges of settled territory. >> next is joellen in columbus, ohio. you're on the air. caller: hello. i was calling to see if rachel had any children. >> no. despite her deep wish for children, rachel had no children. she was one of 11 and those of her brothers and sisters who married had very large families, as well. but she had no children of her own. she had -- they adopted one of twin sons that belonged to her brother and sister-in-law when they were middle aged so there was an andrew jackson jr. who was her nephew.
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>> and there was another son, jackson had been in battle and found -- and had slaughtered many people, women and children, found an infant, tried to give it back to a creek woman who alive. she said, you'd best kill him, you've killed all of his family anyway. jackson takes him home and raises him as a son. it's a very interesting kind of story because here's jackson, the indian killer, and yet he's adopted this son and raises him as his own. >> he writes a lot of letters to rachel saying there's something special, he's an orphan, i was an orphan, there's some reason i found him and he's not to be in the servants' quarters. he's to be in the house and he's to be educated. he wanted to send him to west point but john quincy adams was
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president by then so it was impossible. >> first year was a fairly quiet one and the social side of the white house and social means politics by this time in washington so at what point does he decide he actually needs assistance? >> well, emily, rachel's niece and nephew, were with him all of this time, that they were so close, all these nieces and nephews, all named the same name so it's difficult sometimes to figure out which andrew donelson we mean but this particular young man had been one of their wards and became the president's secretary. he had married his first cousin, emily donelson, and they planned all along to come with the jacksons and they went ahead and accompanied him. >> how did she create the role of first lady in the administration? >> she had lovely manners. she was a very pretty girl, young, in her early 20's. she had very good manners, had
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been trained in a lady's academy in nashville. >> washington society loved her. >> they loved her and one of the main reasons they loved her was because she was young and malleable and the old grande dames of washington could run all over her as they could not someone like rachel. they always liked the innocent young nieces. >> as someone who cast himself as the people's president, he lived fairly large in the white house, it seems. fairly nice parties and lots of money spent on redecorating. how did that square with his public image? >> he believed with democracy with a small d and he was very concerned about moneyed interests and elites controlling the country so that is the core of the democracy he was trying to create. peoplely believed in being part of the democracy. >> but it didn't preclude entertaining. >> it didn't preclude him being
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cultivated and having manners and becoming a lawyer and learning how to interact in society. >> he always wanted to be a gentleman. that was one of his goals, to prove he was a gentleman and if you look at some of his controversies, they're because in the early days other men did not treat him as equals. durango,p is lee in colorado. caller: yes. i'd like to know, what was the big to-do about the election of 1828? we know what was said about rachel jackson, but what was the comments on the other side? >> well, there were. >> among other things, they said john quincy adams was a pimp which is the most ridiculous thing you could possibly image. it was based on a little thing but had nothing to do with sexual activities.
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they said a lot of bad things about adams and also about his wife. theyas, after all, believed, a foreigner. she was born in great britain even though she had american parents and legally was an american but they saw her as a possibly foreign influence. >> and she wasn't happy in the white house particularly either. she was very cultivated and washington was a squat little town really at this time. >> we promised scandal, intrigue. it wasn't just in the 1828 and rachel jackson and the criticism she received but also what became known as the peggy eaton affair which colored and framed much of the jackson presidency. who was peggy eaton and how did this unfold? >> peggy eaton was the daughter of a washington, d.c., hotel keeper, tavern owner. many politicians stayed in his
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hotel and the family got to know them well. she was beautiful. she was well educated. she liked to sing and perform. she actually sometimes appeared in public, which, god forbid, any lady should do. so she was seen as not quite quite. >> she was beautiful. she was vivacious, and she didn't really know her place. she really interfered and went into situations that were part of the men's women and this was a period in the american history which domesticity is specific and there's the women's sphere and the men's sphere and the women's sphere is to guard the household and the morals of society while the men go out and fight in this new capitalist world. margaret eaton and i call her margaret because that's what she liked to be called. i think peggy is a bit of an insult because she didn't like to be called that. she really was somebody who was going up against a different
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class and was going at it in a very difficult way. she was outspoken and bold and that was not a woman's role. >> how did she become an issue for the cabinet? >> her husband killed himself. he was a pursuer on a naval vessel, he killed himself so she was a widow. >> with two children. >> yes. and one person who had consistently lived at the o'neal's hotel was john henry eaton who was one of jackson's closest friends, supporters, a close friend and supporter of rachel throughout all the bad times and he was worried, at margaret's suggestion, that he might have ruined her reputation. there was a lot of talk they had had an affair and that's why her husband killed himself and so he asked jackson, should i marry her? and jackson said, certainly.
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he was always for love and romance. >> and jackson was familiar with her. >> he liked her. >> he stayed in the same boarding house and knew her when she was a young girl so he felt she was perfectly respectable and this was a good thing. >> how did it rise to the level of a cabinet scandal? >> they married too soon. >> they married too soon. >> she should have been mourning for at least a year and she married john eaton well before that and that was a problem. >> well, and besides that, once the cabinet was named and it includes eaton and his wife, whose social bona fides are not so good, and then she presses right ahead and goes and calls on one of the haughtiest of the wives of the other men, floride calhoun and floride refuses to return her call. in those days, that was akin to
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slapping someone in the face. >> society was very structured and the protocol of society was very structured and the first person you would see when you came into town, you would visit the vice president and you would leave your card, so she started in on this process but she did it incorrectly and floride calhoun was not about to return a call to this woman. >> it came to a point where jackson's cabinet was in an uproar and many resignations because of it. >> all the wives except one refused to call on peggy eaton or when the president gave a big party and she was an honored guest often at his side attempting to force these women to recognize her, it was, hello, and they would walk on. everything was so cold and so ugly and margaret was totally
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mortified and the worst of all, among those who gave the cut to margaret was emily donelson, his niece. >> we have two quotes from andrew jackson at the time period that gives you the sense of the president's involvement and peak over the so-called petticoat affair. "do you suppose i have been sent here by the people to consult the ladies of washington as to the proper persons of the cabinet?" and to peggy eaton herself -- did it become a constitutional crisis with his cabinet resigning? >> well, it did, and unfortunately, it's jackson's gallant defending of margaret eaton that turns it from a social crisis into a political crisis. he couldn't leave it alone. he spent enormous amounts of time trying to defend her honor, getting affidavits about
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where she was, tracking down the people who made these terrible comments, and finally it becomes, in his mind, that it has to be an attack against him, as well, it's not just margaret, it's an attack against him. >> that's when he grows to hate calhoun. >> that's when he sees calhoun behind all of this. >> bringing this back to niece donelson because you said she was malleable but also told us he could not abide by close people, especially family members, who disagreed with him. what happened between the two? >> she was so influenced by the ladies that she joined in the -- really, the ostracism of margaret eaton and he demanded -- and she did receive her at the white house, but he demanded that she treat her as a and she would not and so
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he sent her home. >> next is a question from john in annandale, virginia. hi, john. caller: hi, great series, as always. i'm wondering how andrew jackson's personality or approach was affected by him becoming a widower, if at all. i know wilson, for example, quickly remarried, which wasn't the case here. but was there any noticeable change in him? >> he was devastated. >> yes. he was not just devastated, though. he was embittered. his whole first term really didn't accomplish anything because he was either in mourning or he was attempting to help peggy eaton out, he was fighting with his favorite and nephew. he had to actually -- he asked his cabinet to resign. it was a whole huge thing that involved him because he saw her as a surrogate for rachel.
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if they could treat her this way, they might have treated wife that way. and he could not let it go. >> next up is a call from dorothy in westerville, ohio. hi. caller: hi. thank you so much for taking my call. the program has been remarkable so far. my question is, how did rachel deal with andrew jackson's fiery temper? yourhang up and listen for answer. >> thank you. >> the only person who actually could control jackson when he was in a rage was rachel. one particular time they were going down river and there was a boat ahead of them with a number of happy young bucks who were all drunk who were zigzagging, zigzagging, zigzagging, so their boat was held up and he took out a gun kill asaid, i'll just
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couple of them and she stopped that whole operation. i don't know if he would have or not, but maybe. >> next is nancy from new jersey. hi, nancy. caller: fabulous. i would like to know if either of your guests have seen the old movie depicting the jacksons with charlton heston and susan hayward. it showed a beautiful love story. it was accurate? >> it wasn't particularly accurate but it had great looking actors and it was really romantic. i loved it. the book came out, "the president's lady" in 1961. it was a best seller for years. >> last question for this part of our program is from gary robinson on twitter and it sets the stage for the next half hour of our conversation. what was secretary of state van buren's role in the petticoat affair and jackson's cabinet? >> secretary of state van buren
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had the unfortunate benefit of being a widower himself so he didn't have to have this social political push from his wife as the other cabinet members did. he was free to go and see margaret eaton and he. did he called on her frequently. he treated her well, and he gained tremendous, tremendous respect from jackson for that. it's very interesting 19th century historian who says the whole political history of the last 30 years -- and he's writing at the beginning of the civil war -- can be attributed to the moment when the soft hand of martin van buren touched mrs. eaton's knocker. although there's a double entendre there, it points out the fact that martin van buren undercuts calhoun and steps in and places himself in position to be the next one to run for
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president where calhoun had been the natural choice. >> how did it become a successful bid for the presidency? >> it was somewhat complicated. he resigned. he got the -- he got eaton to resign, he got the rest of the cabinet to resign and then he got appointed -- jackson said you can't just resign, that's not good. i have to do something for you so he nominated him to be the minister, basically ambassador, to great britain, and martin van buren left for great britain happy to be the new ambassador to the court of st. james and calhoun who was the seated vice president had the deciding vote in the senate on the appointment of this nomination and he cast a vote against it, infuriating jackson, and sealing van buren's future. >> martin van buren comes to the white house, the first northerner, far northerner, new york state. >> from new york state. >> he was the first born as an american.
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>> first born with american citizenship as his birth right. >> and another first, the adams were of english heritage. he was dutch. >> he grew up speaking dutch. english was a second language to him so he was from a different culture. >> and a widower president coming to the white house. his wife died many years before and to set the stage for our conversation on his white house and first lady who served him, we're going to listen now to white house historian bill seale. >> president truman's favorite portrait because she was pretty. she was a southern belle, a tall girl. today you would say she was athletic looking. she married abraham van buren, met him at saratoga springs. she was from columbia, south carolina, was a belle and had plenty of money at the time. the singletons were a big, big family.
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she had plenty of money, bought pretty clothes. she was apparently a lot of fun so she and abraham went to europe on their honeymoon where she was introduced to young queen victoria approximately her age and was so excited about the way the queen received women that she came back to the white house and had a platform built at the end of the blue room which was called the blue room for the first time in that administration, van buren, and she received all her friends all in white at the end of the room and they just nodded, they didn't shake hands or anything. it was not taken very well at all. imagine a country that never allowed ambassadors to wear uniforms. they didn't like that at all so the platform was removed. she lived on to the 1870's in new york, married to abraham.
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and not a lot known about her. very few letters and she was i guess what you would call a belle at that time. she didn't worry about things much. >> martin van buren came to the white house as a bachelor with a number of sons and was it a quiet place in his term here? >> yes. it was very quiet. he was facing a tremendous political crisis because of the panic of 1837 which he inherited from jackson and jackson's policies. >> several weeks after he was inaugurated so it struck like that. >> and it went on so that he was a depression president. >> he was a depression president and this was the first huge economic depression the united states had had. we had a small one in 1819 but it wasn't nearly of this scale. basically, we had already had an interconnected global economy and there were calls out on banks from london, there were calls out to american banks, they didn't have the money. and they collapsed. and as the banking crisis
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started to go out, we don't have a national currency at this point, state banks started to collapse and everything dries up. >> what was the depth of the depression for most americans? >> oh, boy. by that may there were riots over food in new york city. it was really serious. >> it was still going on in 1842, 1843. it didn't go away. >> it got a little bit better but not nearly for a long time. it was really a good five years. >> did he have a cabinet or his own personal ability to -- skill set to help resolve the crisis? >> well, presidents don't hold all these levers even now and this is before we have a fed although he did recommend an independent treasury system which is something like that but martin van buren and the democratic party had been arguing against federalism and against these federal projects so they sort of backed themselves into a corner on that. >> i don't think anyone at that time could have dealt with a
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major depression. they just had to wait for the economy to heal. >> they didn't have the tools. they really didn't know what was causing it and they certainly didn't have a structure in place, for example, we have the fed today that will loan money to banks that are having runs so they don't close and don't go under -- but we didn't really solve this problem until we got to the new deal. >> and with this great trial going on in the rest of the country, how interested was the van buren administration in having a social side? >> he was a very social person. that was one of his great skill sets. charming little dinner parties. he was very personable. he, like jackson, always liked women and loved women friends so there was still -- there was still a social side to the white house because a lot of his politicking was done socially. >> he would go elsewhere but in terms of large-scale entertaining, the new year's day party, which was traditional, was pretty much his
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big party until his eldest son married angelica singleton. >> here is where we bring in dolley madison and what role does she have to play in this administration? >> referred to by carl anthony brilliantly as the queen mother, i think, she had a beautiful cousin, angelica singleton, martin van buren had four single sons including his chief aide and she introduced them all at a dinner party. >> why was dolley madison back in washington? >> her husband had died. >> and they had to sell off the plantation. >> her son wasn't the best manager so she moved back to washington. she also loved the washington scene. >> she bought a house on lafayette square. she was right there. and she immediately jumped in
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to the social swing where she had been happiest and she came back there as a widow. >> back to calls. terry in independence, missouri, as we talk about the van buren administration. hi, terry. are you there? we have lost her. let's go to kentucky. caller: i am calling about mrs. jackson. i thought she had a son who passed away. i would also like to comment on angelica's impression on the press as hostess of the white house and representing the buren administration abroad and how dolley madison influenced her role. >> thank you. >> she died shortly after rachel moved to washington.
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buren spent the first year in the white house without a hostess. she was hostess for a season in which he was wildly successful. she did a fabulous job. they went to europe where she met the queen of england and she really jumped to it. she went to the french academy. when she came back for the next season is when she sort of had a problem. that is when she had that tableau of the new year's open house. this is just the beginning of the next presidential season and you hear her acting in a queenly matter. that did not go well.
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>> did she want to serve as first lady? or was it is expected of her as the only woman in the family? >> she wanted a bigger stage for herself. a and on facebook -- she was new bride who went to take on her hostessing duty. >> at first it was very positive. she was pretty and young and people liked to see paper cutouts of her. it was her trip to europe that did great harm to the administration. she had gone overboard and she was shocked when public opinion lashed out at her because we were undergoing a depression and she was posing on a dais if she was a queen.
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>> what did they do with it? >> they built it into the blue room. wouldt on a sofa that have been anti-republican. she did not know better. she had seen victoria and france and she thought this would be cool and she built a platform and wore ostrich feathers. after the whig politicians talked about them being born with golden spoons in their mouths and wasting public money, they pulled out the platform. >> how did the europeans see the first couple? how well did the europeans received the first couple?
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>> they really took europe by .torm the mother's brother was the minister for the church of saint james. he was called a slave breeder by an irish militant. there was growing tension there. the publicity of angelica on a positive side did not really cover up those deeper things. >> tonight we are telling the story of two widow presidents that have relatives. twitter question -- why was it important for unmarried/widowed presidents to have a hostess? would that be true for a single president today? >> not as much today as it was then.
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in a parliamentary system where you have a chief of state and prime minister, there is someone to do those ceremonial duties. there is an important function there for a president's partner. it is a social and entertaining piece that is there. it is difficult for these bachelor presidents to pull that off without having a female. >> women entertaining ladies at the time, there had to be a hostess. if a man does it -- jackson was known for entertaining and asked dolley madison and one of his daughters. but to have these large entertainments, you needed a lady at them.
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>> this is a particular instant, but this is a house -- >> caller from baltimore. what is your question? caller: when angelica was presented to queen victoria, what was her impression of angelica? >> we were told that she was charmed of her. we do not know of any consequence correspondence. >> i think the european courts were fascinated and relieved that they turned out to be civilized, that they were not backwards or uncivilized, which was unexpected of americans.
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>> angelica's family was very wealthy. she had a great interest in fashion. she would come in the finest dress. it was the just she was presented to the queen in. she was polished. >> what about family cultures? angelica came from the plantation life and a very wealthy family in the south. >> martin van buren loved society. he was nervous because he was always willing off plans. a lot men who disliked him would say, oh, he just deals with the ladies. he deals with the ladies
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through the back door. he was very social. so were his sons. >> a little sidebar, but there were stories that martin van buren is responsible for the universal expression, "ok." >> during the election of 1840, supporters of martin van buren started referring to him and the phrase "ok" was picked up by campaign. it stuck. it began the universal expression that we use all the time. >> georgia, what is your question? caller: i want to know if angelica did anything beyond hostessing. some were disappointed in her not helping with the causes because they had conflict with the other frontiers. did she advise him on that sort of thing?
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or was she simply a hostess? >> we have no evidence of her delving into politics. even later in life and during the civil war, she was quite quiet about where her sentiments fell in anything politically. she does not express a political view. >> but her influence in politics was a negative one during the administration. >> because she was young and she made mistakes. >> did she recover? >> she did, i think. they tore out the dais. by then, the administration was almost over anyway. >> angelica wasn't going to sink the administration. there were some serious issues in the united states. slavery was a huge one. these are big and difficult issues.
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the size of the north and the south are pulling apart from each other. the center is not going to hold. >> what about the mormons and buren? >> i don't know. >> bill, you are on the program. burrr: he simulates that is the true father of martin van buren. how serious would that claim be? >> i will say that it is a delightful tale. it is almost impossible. during the campaign of 1840,
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that was certainly raised. van buren being a close associate of burr. both of them were charmed. the likelihood that martin van buren's mother was living in a tavern in new york after having all of these kids already from her first marriage -- that was highly unlikely. >> from twitter -- i would like to know if angelica had any kids. >> yes, she did. that is the thing about young women in the white house. >> angelica was pregnant twice in the white house. the first child she lost.
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shortly after that, she retreated from public life because she was already pregnant. she kept it private after that. >> missouri. caller: hello? >> hi. you are on. caller: i'm wondering why martin van buren did not remarry after his wife died. >> interesting question. there is little talk about this. they were first cousins. they knew each other growing up. hannah was his wife. childrenall of these together. we do not have too many stories
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of him having romantic dalliances with other women or even possibly proposing. he has friendships with women, but not another romantic connection. >> a viewer asks you -- why did he not even mention having a daughter in his autobiography? >> he did not mention it. it is a rambling bit of an autobiography. you think -- he wanted to name the girl after the mother. he asked, was the name anna or hannah? he always kept a locket with a painting of her with him. that is all we know. >> we will show a video to a place you know well. it is the historic home that the van burens occupied. can you tell us about it? >> sure. he bought it in case the white
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house didn't work out. he was very pleased to acquire that property. >> we will visit it in new york. you will see that next. [video clip] >> they would spend the summer months here. angelicaning room, would have serve as hostess. they had many events. during those times, angelica in residence and hostess of those occasions. she was quite refined. she was wealthy.
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she had the appropriate graces of the time. so much so that she welcomed the french ambassador and he complimented her. later, buren added another 100 acres. in the green room, one of two parlors on the first floor. typically the women of the would engage in a variety of activities. they would read or recite from memory to one another. they would often play parlor games in here. angelica was trained on the harp. we have a harp here. there were occasions when she would play the harp in the green room. this is the breakfast room. it is a much more intricate room compared to the one you saw earlier.
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it is the one where the family had their daily meals. you can see the monograms. angelica would serve someone tea. in july of 1843, while angelica and abraham were visiting her father in law, she suffered a miscarriage. we know from letters that she wrote in, she convalesced on this coach in the main hall. on the second floor, abraham ad angelica would have spent great deal of time while they were visiting her father in law. we have several dresses that were worn by angelica. it is easy to imagine her wearing them at events. angelica would have likely used this parasol during the summer while visiting.
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i believe that martin van buren and his daughter-in-law had a very close relationship. he was very amiable and was successful in politics. she was trained in the social graces of the 19th-century. i think they genuinely cared for one another. >> a number of them are served in different places. >> yes. >> we have been talking about these early first ladies and whether they influenced fashion in this country. >> she was definitely like jackie kennedy, selling to be emulated. >> let's talk about how the family used this after they the white house.
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>> van buren put a lot of effort into making a productive farm and made money out of doing it. that was an important component. he also had his family there. he had cousins and nephews and nieces. he had families stay there. it was a house full of family. >> he also had political ambition. >> absolutely. he made it clear that if the country called for him, he would certainly go forward. >> what about his bid with the --
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>> sort of like another dutch president who bucks the party he represented, martin van buren comes to 1848 and makes a pretty substantial decision that he is going to go against what he spent his life working for -- united, democratic party -- and he will run a third-party campaign with his son, john. they run on the free liberty ticket. very interesting third-party. a forerunner of the republican party. they basically believed in free soil and free labor and no slavery. >> angelica and her husband
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involved in any future ambitions? >> no, not really. >> certainly the others were. abraham went to university. >> what is interesting is that after she is widowed or even before that, she spends the last part of her life in new york city. it is a cosmopolitan journey. >> a call from naples, florida. caller: hi. i grew up in the 1930's and 1940's.
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my last recollection of it it was an abandoned home in total disrepair. the grounds were totally wild. any evidence was totally absent. at what point did the property get improved? a man of wealth about the property and started to repair it and then the government took it over. did you tell that part of the story? >> it basically became a large and ornate farmhouse. it had gone through several reiterations. they try to make a teahouse out of it. and basically had never been owned again by anyone who had
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enough money to do anything great for it, but also never had money to ruin it either. the gentleman you mentioned purchased the house and try to restore it. actually did, at least saved it from complete ruin and then legislation was passed to make it as part of the national park service. >> next is a call from marilyn. caller: hi there. i'm enjoying your program. i'm wondering what abraham did while angelica was acting as host is in the white house. >> thank you. >> the president's always lives in the white house.
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that is why they had relatives. they wanted people that they got along with. they wanted to live in the house and abraham was the secretary and the principal aid to his father. >> yes. he had been to west point and had fought in the civil war. >> from twitter -- did anyone ever mention hannah? you said you wanted to talk more about that. >> what i really wanted to say is that van buren was not so odd in mentioning his wife. many leaders would talk about their lives without mentioning wives or children. it was so personal and it had nothing to do with their success. >> we have about seven minutes left.
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i would like to wrap this up and talk about the time period. two administrations that are very much intertwined and scandal politics. let's talk in a broad sense about the changing country and the changing political parties. >> one of the major things that we forget because we are so comfortable with united states being a two-party system and that that being what democracy is, you forget that during the early republic, there wasn't a two-party system. the founding fathers hated parties and thought they would be terrible for democracy. it was the buren generation that they needed an ordered, structured system of making things happen. we need a party, philosophy, to show up and vote on the same
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things. we need to hang together or things will spin out of control, and they did. >> how did washington, d.c. change? >> it grew like crazy. >> at the beginning it was kind of a big swamp with a lot of trees and dirt. there would be a house there and a building there. it became a place. i think what is important about this is that it is the time when steamboats had changed the whole situation about selling from the south and the slave power was growing and abolition sentiment is growing like crazy in the north. that is why we see someone like van buren running on the free soil ticket, which is that abolitionist party. >> this elephant in the room takes stage.
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>> during this time, we had two apolitical first ladies. one says that she loves the renderings of the white house. >> there is a major piece that you always see sticking out from the house that is a major addition. they put in plumbing and central heating. they got a lot of heat for it the white house changed a lot. >> that was on basic repairs. it starts out a certain way and then it gets all run down as it does with your own house. they keep putting off repairs that are pretty much needed. >> especially if you are andrew
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jackson and take many people. isabella, you're on the air. caller: hi. i'm wondering why did they usually marry their relatives? >> can i also ask how old you are? caller: twelve. >> are you learning a lot? caller: yes. >> glad to have you in the audience.
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>> there were a limited number of people. at the time, your cousins would be the only people available to you. it was not uncommon at all. it was not uncommon for that to happen. people did not have any sense that there was anything odd about that. it seemed like a good thing. you knew what that person was like and you knew all about them. >> they were dutch speakers. these were their own people. >> there was a book written about martha washington. this is her story about rachel and andrew jackson of being gentle. it is available for those of you who want to learn more. let me have you talk about a theme, that is the changing role of women in politics.
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what was happening for women their ability to influence politics? >> what was gaining is the abolitionist movement. they were part of that movement and were also feminist. it was not peculiar to see women with opinions. theow did the ladies in administrations deal with the panic of 1837? >> very well. >> last question. caller: yes, my quick question
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is that i heard that the burens -- what president family spoke foreign language in the white house, and the answer is the family of martin van buren's. >> i do not believe that his children did. i doubt he spoke dutch in the white house. by the time he went into his retirement, he went to the countryside to speak with the people who spoke dutch. the dutch in the hudson valley began to die out. >> what happens next? >> he goes home. whitet happens in the
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house? >> the war hero, harrison, comes in and unfortunately pneumonia during his inauguration and dies. >> it sets the stage for a very interesting conversation on our next program of "first ladies." thank you for being here tonight to talk us through 12 years of a changing country and the presidents and first ladies. >> thank you. ♪ [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2013] [captioning performed by national captioning institute]
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♪ >> c-span, created by america's cable companies in 1979, brought to you as a public service by your television providers. are aa few moments, series focuses on the lives of m. harrison -- our series focuses on the lives of anna harrison and letitia tyler.
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